As a marketing consultant and business owner I’m more than a little obsessed with the email that I receive. This is particularly true when a marketing automation company sends me information. Generally I find the offers they provide relevant and intriguing. After all, marketing companies know how to sell to marketing professionals.

Not this week.

Let’s go back two days for context. I received an email to my work address from Marketo inviting me to an on-line demonstration of their technology in exchange for a $50 dinner gift certificate. This seemed a bit odd – Marketo is paying me to watch a product demo? I have used Marketo in the past, although under a different email address so I’ll forgive them for not knowing. Curious, and truth be told a little bit hungry, I clicked through to the request form. I filled it out honestly, and shortly thereafter got an auto-generated email letting me know a sales person would be in touch. OK, so far, the email campaign was acting as I might expect.  I’m still not sure how I got on their on-line demo list but I accept the call from the sales rep. After all, my stomach is grumbling and I’m a bit curious.  Despite my desire for a good meal on Marketo I let the sales person off the hook. I immediately come clean that I run my own consulting practice, that I have used the tool in the past, and often recommend it to my clients. Clearly, I’m not the target for the free offer and I don’t want to waste your time. The young woman who called was grateful for my honesty and offered to email me the latest information on the product. I was slightly amused that the telemarketing person didn’t bother to look up my company website before calling but figured she’d been assigned a task. Strike One. Case closed. Not quite.

Today, my cell phone rings again with a number I don’t recognize. Desperate for a break from the writing I should be doing, I answered the phone. Shockingly it was the same woman from Marketo I spoke with yesterday! I asked her if she called by mistake. Did she remember our conversation? She replied by asking if I got her follow-up email. Well yes I had. But honestly it was not relevant to me in any way. I was willing to ignore the poor prep for our first call, but now I’m simply annoyed.  I’m a pretty open professional, but the one thing I can’t stand is my time being wasted when just a little effort could have avoided it. Strike Two. And still no free dinner.

Despite being annoyed I am feeling a bit generous and want to believe this was an honest mistake. So, where’s my apology and make good email? With just a couple of minutes I could have received a follow-up email apologizing for the confusion, and offering me a white paper, event or other offer this is relevant to my business. No apology. Strike Three.

I believe in persona based marketing. However, when you treat individuals as if they ARE the persona you have created mistakes are going to happen. Clearly this sales person didn’t have a firm grasp on my company, clients or goals. And while I have a lot of respect for Marketo, the fact remains I shouldn’t have been offered the gift card in the first place, and I certainly shouldn’t have been called twice to promote it. I hope they, and all of you, use this effort as a teaching lesson.

On the rare occasions when your buyers respond to email and pick up the phone making a home run should be the first order of business. Don’t forget to make notes when you speak to prospects and customers. And most importantly READ those database notes before you pick up the phone. It will save you time, and your prospects sanity!